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User reviews for the URC-200 "Automater" & RF-20 from Universal Remote Control Inc.
URC-200 "Automater" & RF-20
RatingsReviewsMSRP (USD)
Average: 4.18/5.00
Median: 4.33/5.00
15$150 / $120
The URC-200 is a 10-device learning and preprogrammed remote control that features numerous macros, a large LCD screen with customizable names for 5 hard buttons, favorite channel macros, 5-way menu controls and an optional RF extender.
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the URC-200 "Automater" & RF-20 remote.
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Written by Robert Spalding from Tualatin, OR.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 8 made on Thursday February 3, 2005 at 7:50 PM.
Strengths:Easy to program, lots of options as far as macros go.
Weaknesses:Once you figure out how to program it, it's easy btu the directions that come with it suck!
Review:I bought this remote to replace a harmony 659 because the Harmony wouldn't control my DVD player reliably. this remote is great, I have set up lots of macros for my wofe and kids and the ability to re-lable buttons is awesome!
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Written by sandstones from san diego,c a.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 7 made on Saturday October 30, 2004 at 8:44 PM.
Strengths:Big buttons, great IR broadcast
Weaknesses:Lack of flexibility in setup, why is it missing a 'record' button?
Review:I've had this thing for a week now, and its finally doing what I want, but I feel that was a result of my ingenuity winning out over the limitations and lack of flexibility of the remote.

My first reaction when I set it up is that I have just 4 devices, and the URC has 3 of them on the first page of devices, and 1 (the Tivo) on the second page. This seemed pretty unacceptable - I don't want to have to do an extra click every time I want to access the Tivo. I was looking for a way to tell it what devices I want in what order, but it doesn't do that.

I got around this by taking the unused VCR device on the first page and using learn mode to teach every single button the Tivo code for that button. Very time consuming, but it finally worked. Then I renamed the VCR to a Tivo and it works.

After I was all done I realized that I might have been able to shorten the process by doing a "punch through" from the old Tivo to my pseudo Tivo, since it seems that the "punch through" is simply a copy of codes from one device to another. However, the manaul doesn't exactly make that clear.

I also got some macros to set the power on and off, but it also took forever, mostly because the feedback on what you are doing and what you have done is extremly limited so lots of mistakes, retries, etc. I sure wish one could see which keys have macros, have learned new codes etc.

They have a nice concept of macros that only take effect if you hold the key for .5 or 1 second and the manual says this only works for the device buttons. I was thinking that it would be really handy to have that feature on the power buttons also, so I tried it and it does indeed work. However, then I had to re-enter all the macros to make them work that way. Sure would be nice if the manaul said something about that.

Their web site has no additonal info - so the manual is it. By experimenting enough I've gotten it to do what I want, but it should have been a lot easier than what I went through.

The order of the additional commands for each device seemed pretty random, so I had to reprogram all of those as well to put the ones I use at the beginning. The lack of a 'record' button on the device was surprsing, but that was about the only one that was missing which I felt should have been there.

Overall, I've happy I have it working, but if I'd known how much effort it took, I would not have gotten it.

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Written by vr8ce from Texas.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 6 made on Monday October 4, 2004 at 10:54 PM.
Strengths:Ease of use
Weaknesses:Couple of programming mis-steps, page up/down are backwards
Review:Others have gone into great detail about what's what on this remote, so I won't duplicate. I just purchased it tonight, and it only took me about a half-hour to get everything working on all my devices. I'll probably spend three or four times that customizing, but the large majority of what I need is already done.

The hard buttons are well layed out, and there are plenty of them. I was pleasantly surprised to find a "Prev ch" hard button, very nice.

However, the Page Up/Down buttons are backwards. To go from Page 1 to Page 2 in Word (or any other page-editing program), e.g., you hit page *down*. On the URC's, you hit page *up*. That's needlessly confusing.

The two things that are missing however, are IMO bigger issues than they've been made out to be. The inability to "move" a button causes a lot of needless programming; I've already found several buttons I want in different places. The bigger issue is importing a device in a different place than the default. For example, if I want SAT or VCR2 on the main page, I have to manually re-program *everything* for that device. That's silly, and unworthy of a $150 (or $200 in the case of the -300) device.

I'm going to keep it, but I'm also going to spend a lot of time programming that shouldn't be necessary.
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Written by Steuart Dewar from Morganton, GA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 5 made on Saturday September 4, 2004 at 1:12 PM.
Strengths:Nice clean layout, easy to program, excellent instructional DVD
Weaknesses:Useless if you have more than a single system to operate remotely.
Review:I was surprised to find that there is no way to disable the wireless transmitter. I have two satellite systems, one of which must be operated remotely, so this remote control is of no use as both remotes broadcast and any wireless retransmitter will pick up signals from BOTH transmitters, so you can't isolate the operation of the remotes to each system. They should either have a way to disable the wireless transmitter or better, provide multiple channels to prevent clashes. I have no choice but to replace this with a remote that only has IR, so I can control the wireless transmission.
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Written by Ed from California USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 4 made on Thursday September 2, 2004 at 7:57 PM.
Strengths:Build quality, easy programmability
Weaknesses:Once you use a "preset" certain buttons might not be re-programmable.
Review:I bought this as a replacment for my second Sony RM-VL1000. Needless to say durability is important to me and the Automator seems to be a lot sturdier than the Sony. It is much easier to program and the "phone keyboard" approach to labeling is a lot better than the annoying Sony "ring menu" approach. Ergonomics seem to be a lot better too. One annoyance I found was that I could not re-program one of the soft buttons. for my Sony TV. I tried to re-program the sleep button to switch between my dual tuners. No dice. Hacked it by making a macro to the pre-programmed button with a new label. Long story....
I've not figured out how to erase a preset. I suppose I just to a total erase and not set any presets, but I have a programmed to my satisfaction and am not interested in starting from scratch again.

Given I paid less than $50 for each of my previous Sonys, the $119 I paid (deliver included) seems kind of high for a remote with similar functionality. But the premature death of the Sonys make it clear that you get what you pay for.
The Sony did have one feature I wish the Automator had: a "copy" function. I ony have 5 devices to control and the 10 device main menu would be perfect for two copies of each device. I don't want "buttons that don't do anything" or buttons with things I don't want.

One more thing: It seems to have "clone" capability. I wish someone would write a PC or PalmOS application to dump from the IR to a hard disk on a PC. Editing software would not be far behind. There also appears to be some jumper connections inside the battery compartment. Wonder what they're for?
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Written by Bruce from Indiana.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 3 made on Thursday September 2, 2004 at 3:45 PM.
Strengths:Very, very easy to set up. I had it up and running in minutes, including plugging in the Expander (RF.

Layout and build quality are very good.

Macro capability is very impressive.

Awsome range and sensitivity on IR.
Weaknesses:Lacks the ability to copy menu structures which is needed when renaming a device. The only way you can change the menus after you change the name of a device is - you guessed it - manually.
Review:I bought this remote to solve a problem I had with my RF satellite receiver (RCA). The receiver is in the basement entertainment center, and I have a remote on the second floor master bedroom. It was always a 'marginal' signal, that seemed to be hit and miss. I installed the Expander, along with the URC-200, and the difference was amazing. I can change channels from anywhere now. The range is very very good.

I would highly recommend both the Expander and the URC-200 for performance and cost.
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Written by Ed Wilfong from N. Cal..
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 2 made on Friday July 16, 2004 at 8:17 PM.
Strengths:(INITIAL IMPRESSIONS from new owner) Easy setup, database works, backlighting!!, so far, all good.
Weaknesses:Not sure about upgradability of database. Would love DVDO and Classe, but it can learn them easy enough.
Review:I purchased this just a few days ago for about $125 at my regular A/V store. I bought as a second remote as althout I love my pronto, I needed something easy to setup and use, and also for second system. The set-up is easy and straight forward. Good backlighting, which is almost unseen in a quality product at this price. Intuitive yet can be as complex as most people need, even us used to custom programming (macros, etc) at a minor league level. Buttons are great material, with good looks and great placement. Could likelu use in dark, but thankfully don't have to.

It is not for those who want to spend time designing graphices and have total control over all buttons, placement, etc. That can be fun, but for funtionality, My guess this will meet my needs.

My only concerns so far are potential upgradabilty and a computer interface is too much to ask at this price.

An absolute bargain and will update my initial impressions should I find differently. Just so few reviews on this, thought I would get one up for initial impressions.
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